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Bands To Watch #83: Jolie Holland

 
By on Friday, 13th February 2009 at 2:56 pm
 

669055194_mJolie Holland is basically the American KT Tunstall and like her counterpart, Jolie is a whizz on the acoustic guitar and here gentle melodic ballads are easy on the ear. Her alternative pop/folk sound is not over complicated and in some ways, its simplicity makes it special. Each track has a steady tempo and instead of focusing on trying to do something different, Jolie uses some tight guitar playing and some pretty astonishing vocals to blow away the audience.

The New York girl sounds like she’s been dumped in an American desert left with only a guitar and, erm, a recording studio. Her talent has got her a lot of attention in the folk world and her lyrical balance is what many say separates her from other song writers.

Jolie’s more recent material is an improvement from her earlier records, which are not bad themselves, but there is one track that stands out. Crowd favourite “Mexico City” is everything you want from a bluesy folk song. Jolie sings with great conviction whilst keeping a chirpy guitar rhythm at the same time. “Palmyra” is another obvious track to chose to give a listen. The track progresses nicely and gradually gets bigger and bigger in tone and sound as the instruments and vocals come to life.

Jolie, like all artists, has her critics and some say that she doesn’t come up with enough hits. Well the consistent quality you get from a Jolie Holland album is good enough to satisfy me and she is certainty going to have a bright career ahead of her.

 

Bands To Watch #82: Crayon Rosary

 
By on Wednesday, 11th February 2009 at 10:24 am
 

I only had to listen to one song from Crayon Rosary to decide they were a great band. Having stumbled across their myspace page I listened to the only track available and was simply blown away by the astonishing vocals and melodic keyboard playing.

This track was called “New York City” and is one hell of a hit single. Although gentle, It’s an excellent listen and some perfectionist acoustic guitar playing compliments the keyboard and children’stoys that feature throughout the track. But this is not why you should check out the track. The harmonised vocals from the only band members, Keith and Brendan is absolutely superb and comparable to the likes of the beach boys.

The next thing to wonder is are they a one hit wonder? The answer is clearly no after listening to the rest of the material on offer. Tracks like “Siren Song” and “Beehive” display the consistent talent and professionalism that the two lads have to offer.  These tracks are also in the same soft indie/folk style that is so easy listening for the ear but the songs do not sound over produced and there is a purity about them which makes them a bit special.

Crayon Rosary are one of the most inventive indie artists out there and are probably the biggest spenders at Toymaster but yet their material is relatively unheard of.  However, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before we see the duo making a big impact on the indie scene.

 

EP Review: First Aid Kit – Drunken Trees

 
By on Friday, 23rd January 2009 at 11:11 am
 

First Aid Kit (side)First Aid Kit is formed of two young teenage sisters who have managed to cause a huge noise in the folk world. The Swedish girls (Klara & Johanna Söderberg) may be physically young but the maturity in their debut album Drunken Trees is simply breathtaking.  Every song is filled with inventive musical composition which you just won’t hear anywhere else.

The girls describe their sound as “Folk/Acoustic/Japanese Pop”. Well I’m not an expert on what Japanese pop is like, but if it is anything like this then you can bet that I will be in a few months time. The album’s tracks seem to split into two categories: soft, delicate ballads and up-tempo Japanese Pop?

Lets get down to business then with the highlights of the record. “You’re not coming home tonight” seems to be the big hit out of the collection and it delivers  tidy acoustic playing that would not be out of place around the campfire. If you’re looking for the tune that defines First Aid Kit, then listen to “Jagadamba, You Might” which has a dark tone to it but displays the finest example of the superb vocals and lyrics that are unique to the two Söderberg sisters.

For me, the best track is “Tangerine” simply because it has the perfect balance of being a commercial acoustic song with the First Aid Kit spin to it. It builds at a steady pace and the chorus is one of the few you might be able to sing along with if your voice is as amateur as mine. I also believe that every album needs its perky/chirpy tunes and Drunken Trees does not disappoint with tracks like “Our Own Pretty Ways” and “Cross Oceans” which sees the girls go a bit rock and roll with an awesome bass line backing them up.

To sum up, the album is a stunner. It’s melodic yet weird vocals and scales flow through the record making for a captivating listen. If this duo are supposed to develop then I can’t imagine what the next release will be like. On first listen your ears are simply perplexed, but when you listen to the record again, let your ears adjust and you’ll surely love it.

 

Bands to Watch #57 – Alessi’s Ark

 
By on Monday, 22nd December 2008 at 5:47 pm
 

Alessi's ArkMySpace has become astonishingly famous for its music scene and it has given us many great acts. Another one of those acts is Alessi’s Ark who promises to be a fantastic prospect for 2009.  Alessi Laurent-Marke is the singer/guitarist behind the music sensation and she has already been tipped to be the next Laura Marling without even releasing a single.

Her first single “The Horse” is now out and it is a favourite to take the charts by storm. Her first ever song though “Glendora” started off as a GCSE music project and it easily deserves an A*. Influences like Arcade Fire are at times evident in Alessi’s work but it is simply unique. It is important to remember that this music genius is just 18. Psychedelic folk music is one way to describe her music but it still doesn’t seem to quite sum it up.

The sheer variety and talent that Alessi already has is incredible. Her first album is set to be a big hit and should see her break through with ease but we could be looking at a star for the future as it seems that she is far from a one album wonder. Her vocals are superbly in tune and plenty of character also comes through but it is also great to see some elaborate guitar work as well. Alessi is simply one of a kind and if you think you have already heard the best pop/folk sensation then think again.

 
 
 

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